Monday, September 16, 2013

Disney World's Magic Kingdom: Wait Less and Ride More

Ah, the Magic Kingdom.  Is there anything better then walking down Main Street U.S.A., Cinderella's Castle in the distance?

I think not.

Over the years, I've received quite a few questions via my blog email about the Magic Kingdom.  Families traveling to Disney World wonder many things, from whether or not they can bring food in to whether or not their four year old needs a stroller.

Yes and yes.

There is plenty to do inside the Magic Kingdom, and make sure you stop and enjoy the many shops, shows and characters.  If you are looking for advice on navigating the park, and waiting as little as possible, here are my "best tips" for the Magic Kingdom.
In January of 2014, my book Walt Disney World Tips n Tricks was published.  For more easy to follow advice, and great tips for Disney World with kids, buy it on Amazon or paperback today!

1.  I start every Disney World tip list with ARRIVE WHEN THE PARK OPENS.  This is a must if you want to accomplish many rides with fewer wait times.

2.  When the park opens, if you have small children, walk straight down Main Street U.S.A., through the castle to Fantasyland.  This area of the park will be the most congested throughout the day, and arriving when the park opens will save you many headaches.

The headaches being crying toddlers waiting 45 minutes (or more) to ride Winnie the Pooh, and waiting 60+ minutes to ride Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid.

My advice is to start in the back of the park (Fantasyland) and ride everything possible in that first hour, when wait times are at a minimum.

3.  When wait times pick up in Fantasyland, it's time to either Fast Pass, move on or both.  Fast Pass tickets are free for all guests in the parks, and are available outside the most popular attractions.  You insert your park ticket, and the machine dispenses a Fast Pass ticket with a return time.  If you return during the one hour window, you wait in the Fast Pass line instead of the regular line.

If you plan accordingly, and have two adults on the vacation, you can use our Fast Pass system, which involves one parent going ahead for Fast Passes.  More on this later.

If you ride Winnie the Pooh, Journey Under the Sea and Dumbo's Flying Elephants, and then see Peter Pan has a 45 minute wait, get a Fast Pass and ride a few other attractions (such as It's a Small World, which usually has a minimal wait) while you wait for your return time for Peter Pan.

This shouldn't happen until about an hour after park opens, depending on how busy the parks are.  When we arrive at park opening, we ride 3-4 rides without needing a Fast Pass.

4.  After Fantasyland, work your way around the park, going to Frontierland and Adventureland next.  On your way stop and ride the Haunted Mansion.  Next up will be rides such as Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain.  If you have small children that won't be riding Thunder Mountain/Splash Mountain, send the waiting parent to get Fast Passes for whatever nearby popular attraction you want to ride next.  This is a bit of running around, but it saves you a lot of waiting in lines.

You need to stay ahead of yourself. 

5.  When you finish up in Adventureland, stop and eat and enjoy some if the midday shows and/or parades in the Magic Kingdom.  Between 11am and 1pm there is always a parade or show in front of the castle.  While enjoying these shows, send an adult into Tomorrowland for Fast Passes.  Rides such as Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and Space Mountain will have longer wait times by mid-afternoon.

While you wait for your Fast Pass return times, ride the "PeopleMover" outside Buzz Lightyear (great relaxing ride for parents and children of all ages) or grab an ice cream at the Plaza Ice Cream Shoppe.

After you've finished up in all the "lands," revisit favorite rides or wait for the big 3pm parade.  Don't forget to stop at my favorite shop, the Confectionery, on your way out!

Have any other great Magic Kingdom tips for parents?  Share below!


  1. My one tip (since I didn't follow it MYSELF this time...): If there's something on your "must do" list and it's deemed to be an "anytime" experience, schedule it anyhow. My Mr. MOTH is our planner (I'm the organizer) so I gave him my list of things I wanted to do on this trip, nearly all of which could be done any time without much wait...and we didn't do a single one! Mostly, it's not his fault. Mostly. Almost.

    1. Oh no!!!!!! Great tip though . It's SOOOOO true. Must be scheduled or it falls by the wayside.... :( Hey, you'll have to go back! haha!


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